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Time For the Administration to Shift Out of Neutral and Expand Student Parking

5 mins read

Swarthmore’s alluring and delicately manicured campus defines Swarthmore as Swarthmore. Greenery and nature envelope acres of the college’s grounds. This is something that many of us have grown used to, given our constant and continued residence and interactions on campus. One aspect contributing to this sense of peace and organic foliage is the lack of cars on campus, making Swarthmore different from many other colleges that boast large student parking lots, a feature that is often somewhat unsightly yet absolutely necessary.

At Swarthmore, the ability to have a car on campus is indeed a privilege and not a right. We, The Phoenix, understand that Swarthmore is unique in its campus design and operations, but parking must be made more accessible for the students that need it. The college should be aware of the difficulties surrounding student parking and make a conscious effort to make parking innovative and less of an after-thought. 

As of now, Swarthmore’s limited information listed on the campus website does not measure up to other colleges’ easily-accessible guidance and parking convenience. (Students are able to obtain a print copy of Motor Vehicle Rules at the Benjamin West House, but this is a relatively ineffective way of presenting information to the campus community.) There are only two registered lots that permit student parking (Cunningham South & Mary Lyon), and they generally only provide senior students — and some juniors — with a parking space. Sophomore and first-year students are left without the privilege, and peace of mind, of keeping their car nearby on campus.

Other colleges in the TriCo community have much more substantial and applicable guidance for parking on the college’s campus. Haverford College released the Haverford College Motor Vehicle Regulations & Parking Information Booklet to provide campus community members with comprehensive campus rules and regulations about transportation. Bryn Mawr College follows suit with a similarly designed page. These documents detail specific campus parking areas and rules for each respective campus. As for students, all students at Haverford and Bryn Mawr are generally permitted to have a registered vehicle on campus, except first-year students. Parking is priced at $60 per semester at Haverford, compared to Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr’s $50 per semester. In an effort to encourage on-campus sustainability, however, students at Haverford can receive a 50% discount to $30 per semester if driving a lower-emissions and higher-MPG SmartWay vehicle. We urge that Swarthmore institute a similar innovation into its parking system design, expanding the eligibility of students to bring vehicles on campus while simultaneously emboldening students to drive eco-friendlier vehicles.

For those not selected to receive on-campus parking, the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) directs students to seek parking from the Swarthmore Borough. Long-term borough parking is located on East Myers Avenue, adjacent to the train tracks, approximately a 10-15 minute walk from Parrish Hall. These parking spaces are priced at $50/month and do not allow for flexibility in the start/end date, making it difficult to accommodate the academic semesters that end halfway through calendar months.

Nevertheless, this parking is not secure and poses more risk than the enclosed parking offered in the Cunningham South lot. The Cunningham South parking lot has 160 parking spaces, and this is combined with approximately twenty parking spaces in the Mary Lyon lot. 180 spaces is not sufficient for a student body of approximately 1600. 

There are numerous parking lots that are not currently reserved for faculty and staff only. The water tower lot (located behind Sci) has 36 parking spaces, and the DuPont lot features approximately 90 parking spaces (not counting the usually occupied staff parking spaces in the Whittier lot). 

We, The Phoenix, ask that the college and Public Safety optimize and expand the use of campus parking lots for students. The unused parking spaces do not have to be explicitly reserved for student parking, but can be clearly designated as weekend or after-hours parking, to ensure that all faculty and staff members have access to convenient parking for their diligent work. This can all be achieved through community understanding and cooperation, allowing for students to park their vehicles on Swarthmore’s campus without compromising safety or its charming landscape.

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